My journey to find power yoga:
It was in the winter of 2000, I had my accident. March in Wisconsin is an unpredictable mess when weather is concerned. I was in my SUV on my way to college trying to navigate my way through the slush and snow. I should have just stayed home but…anyway. I hit a heavy patch of slush, and my truck hydroplaned. The next thing I knew, I was rolling and rolling…holding on to the driver’s wheel and bracing for what… I woke up outside and underneath my vehicle, watching it tip up and then down above my forehead. I can’t believe it didn’t crush my head. I still see that moment in time clear as day. And no, I was not wearing my seat belt. I was stupid, unbelievably stupid and naive. Its quiet ironic, considering I was at the top of the Dean’s list…
I spent the next 6 weeks nursing a crushed vertebra. For my spine, lumbar 2 is permanently crushed and looks like a perfect bow-tie in all my x-rays. From then on, I was weakened. I was so, so stupid. But, you can’t change the past, so time to start workin on the future.
I followed my doctor’s instructions. When I didn’t, my mother took over (when mom means business, everybody listens). I strengthened my core, kept my weight in check, and got plenty of exercise.
For a while, I did alright and had only short pain flare ups. I was able to keep an active life which is crucial for me to be me. Then, it happened again…
I was at the gym lifting weights. One dead lift later and, all I worked for collapsed. I tore the disc at the center of my “bow-tie.” Dammit! Everything I did after that was painful or subject to further injury. I spent the next 2 years always moving with caution. And, my 4th pregnancy didn’t help.
Again, I kept my weight in check and exercised as my body would allow, but I just couldn’t get back to full capacity. I, too, had to rely on occasional medication to treat pain and inflammation. I hated the meds. They helped with pain, but slowed me down and screwed up the rest of my systems, especially my digestion. So, that was it and that was how it was gonna be. I was just going to be one of those people dealing with chronic back pain – I thought…
Sometime later, I found a Martial Arts Dojo I was eager to join. But after Master learned of my previous injuries, he told me he would not train me unless I completed at least 2 months of his power yoga program. “Seriously?” I explained I had no interest in power yoga, that I’m an up and move, action kinda girl. I felt like a little kid being told “no.”
Needless to say, I started yoga 2 weeks later. I thought, “Just suck it up and get through it. It will be worth it in the end.” I had no idea how much that thought was true.
Master teaches what he calls Power Yoga: a series of yoga stretches and poses each held for 1-2 minutes. To my surprise, I broke a sweat the first session! Funny, my muscles were actually sore 2 days later. I did this power yoga 3 times a week. And after just 2 weeks, I didn’t have to take an anti-inflammatory! For me, this was a big deal…
I found out soon, it wasn’t just me in class with an injury. One woman was there to ease an old neck injury and another man to manage his rheumatoid arthritis. Both agreed, yoga had helped them treat their problems too. Later, I was chatting with my Aunt about my success with yoga, and she agreed 100%. She explained she had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and had been taking yoga classes for pain management. She said for her, yoga was a real pain killer. She loved it!
After my 8 weeks were up, I entered the Martial Arts program. I am currently working towards earning my green belt. I cannot believe sometimes the things my back is able to handle. It is stronger than it ever was, and my fear of it suddenly slipping is gone. No more pills and no more pain – all thanks to yoga!
I still practice power yoga today and will continue to do so for my better health. If you are dealing with a back injury like mine or another muscular/skeletal type problem, I strongly suggest you try it. Of course, check with your doctor and then inform your instructor of your issue, so he/she may proceed accordingly and with caution if necessary. Truly, it can do amazing work on your body! And let’s not forget the wonders it does for stress, flexibility, and etc… But that’s another blog, isn’t it?
Power Yoga For Back Pain – Some Example Moves